I dont usually post about my stalking or vermin control, but yesterday was been a truly great day.
I help to manage with a friend, an estate in the south lakes area, it's a SSI and very special place, which I hold close to my heart, with a nature reserve next door, it requires careful and tactful management as you're never far from the lens of someones binoculars...
The Rut is in full swing here, two weeks of roaring, barking and stags fighting over the hareme of available hinds.
Management plan is simple, take out the weak, infirm and leave the big lads alone..
I set out at 0 dark 5 and arrived on the ground about half an hour later.
An almost full moon and no wind made me wonder if it was worthwhile being out, I left the L200 near one of the estate entrance tracks and stalked a half mile into a place where reds are usually seen.
While I was walking in, all around were the etheral sounds of stags roaring, barking and thrashing through the undergrowth in short battles.
I was in position at six, set up under an oak tree overlooking an area about 300 mtrs across which has patches of hawthorne, marshy bogs, and limestone pavement intermingled with pasture land.
There are beef cattle in this area at the moment - not so much of an issue as sheep, the deer seem to tolerate the cattle and viceversa in this area.
I took this image when I was out on another day with a different rifle, sorry for quality - basic camera phone
You can probably make out a few hinds in the mid ground.....
I settled in and waited, the weather was dry and warm, no wind, barks and roars could be heard all around, I honestly thought at one point two stags would come over a fence behind me they were that close, ,,, but its was still too dark to aquire any notion of which to select for cull.
I waited for another hour, moonlight giving over to dawns early light, I expected the stags to abate their activities, but nothing changed.
The roaring continued, it was relatively easy to identify individuals, I counted seven different "voices" nearby at one point.
As light came, I saw a parcel of a dozen hinds and calves about 250 mtrs from my position, the cattle were bettween me and them, (and the stags) so I took a tough decision and opted to change position.
Skirted against the hedgerow moving with some beef calves to a point where I was 100 mtrs from the hinds.
It was then I saw two of the larger stags, both 12 pointers, massive against the hinds - possibly 15 - 18 stone, in the peak of condition, I was enthralled to watch them battle, antlers locked together for what seemd like ten minutes.
Eventually the lesser stag yielded, but broke off a hind and chased her towards and right past me, twenty yards from me.
Fantastic to watch.
The two continued behind for a few hundred meters and went into cover.
I then heard a new voice roaring, again behind me, as it roared, I could tell it was quartering but getting closer.
Risking a peep over a wall, I saw a staggie some 100 mtrs behind roaring his heart out and facing me.
Taking a kneeling position, the 130 TSX hit home at the base of the neck and he dropped DRT.
I expected all activity to cease, at the sound of the (moderated) shot, not so.
Another, as yet unseen staggie jumped over a wall into the main "arena" and started to lock antlers with another - stag which, I hadnt spotted, both of these were young and not in great condition.
I thought, if the opportunity arises, I'll take one.
It did, after another five minutes of tussling, both broke away.
One to the left about 50 mtrs from me, the other right, trotting to halt 100 mtrs away.
Seated, I took the staggie on the left in the neck at 30 mtrs, DRT, then adopted a prone with bipod to check the other staggie - he stayed still and was facing me.
Long enough again for another low neck - DRT.
The down side of Reds;
Three seconds of trigger time.
Two hours of larder time, once gralloching was over - the truck was full
A long, but magical morning, one i'll not forget for years and a day that makes me realise how fortunate I am helping to manage this particular estate.
For those interested, rifle used was Rem 700 chambered in 6.5x284 by my fair hand using a Brux cut rifled barrel, Barnes 130 tsx being the bullet of choice. Scope is PM11 (10x42)